02/08/2013 3:44PM

Oaklawn Park: Will Take Charge makes progress toward Southwest

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Will Take Charge won the Smarty Jones, the first leg of the Oaklawn Park series for Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Will Take Charge on Friday took another step toward a start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest when he breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:00.80 at his Oaklawn Park base. The move was the second fastest of 23 at the distance. The Southwest is the second leg of Oaklawn’s series for 3-year-olds, and is to be run Feb. 18.

Will Take Charge won the meet’s first race in the series, the $150,000 Smarty Jones on Jan. 21. The work Friday was his second since the score. Will Take Charge went in company under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo in the second set after the renovation break. He went into the drill about two lengths off his company, joined his workmate early on the turn, then left his company and went about his business to finish with plenty in reserve.

“I wanted him to break off behind his company, then just work on his own, which he pretty much did,” said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Will Take Charge for Willis Horton.

“It was a very, very solid work. We wanted to get a little more serious this time than last time. Last time was more of a maintenance work. I loved the way he finished up today, and the whole work itself.”

Jim Hamilton, the state clocker at Oaklawn, carried Will Take Charge through fractions of 12 seconds for his opening eighth of a mile, 24 seconds for the first quarter, 36.40 for three furlongs, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.20. Hamilton had the horse’s final quarter in 24.40.

Will Take Charge is a half-brother to Take Charge Indy, the winner of last year’s Florida Derby. Both horses are out of Take Charge Lady, a multiple Grade 1 winner of $2.4 million.

Smashing debut winner

Jan’s Perfect Star, a 4-year-old Arkansas-bred filly, earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for winning her debut by 12 lengths Thursday at Oaklawn. She won the six-furlong maiden special weight for statebreds wire to wire in a sharp 1:10.61.

The next-race plans for Jan’s Perfect Star have not been determined, trainer Al Cates said on Friday, but he looks for her to see stakes action in the future. As an Arkansas-bred, Jan’s Perfect Star is eligible for such local stakes as the $60,000 Downthedustyroad for fillies and mares at six furlongs Feb. 23, and the $60,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Female Division at a mile and a sixteenth March 24.

Jan’s Perfect Star is by the multiple Grade 2 winner Imperialism. She is a half-sister to stakes winners Cauy and Maria’s Mirage. Jan’s Perfect Star races for Jeff Heslep.

Neith to Rachel Alexandra

Neith, who was fourth in the $60,000 Dixie Belle in her seasonal debut last out at Oaklawn, is to make her next start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23, said her trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. Neith will be stretching back out to two turns for the race, the configuration over which she won her maiden in October at Churchill Downs.

Lukas said Friday that Oxbow remains on deck for the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star on the same card at Fair Grounds, while Optimizer will also run on the program, in the Grade 3, $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap. Skyring, who had been pointed for the Grade 3, $150,000 Mineshaft on the Feb. 23 card at Fair Grounds, will not ship, Lukas said Friday.

◗ Appealing Susan might be sitting on a peak race for the featured eighth race on Sunday, which will be her third start since last May. She comes into the first-level allowance for fillies and mares at six furlongs off a runner-up finish to Lady Diva Ga Ga at a similar level at Oaklawn on Jan. 17. Since that race, Lady Diva Ga Ga has won a second-level allowance at Oaklawn. Robby Albarado will ride Appealing Susan for William Stiritz and trainer Scott Becker.